Why It matters: House Bill 1240, as signed into law, bans many semi-automatic firearms commonly used by America’s sportsmen and women in hunting and recreational shooting. Modern sporting rifles and semi-automatic firearms are not only important to our hunting heritage but are highly popular in the recreational shooting community. This legislation severely undermines our hunting heritage, firearm rights, and America’s most successful wildlife conservation program – the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act.
- On Tuesday, April 25, Governor Jay Inslee signed into law House Bill 1240, which bans the sale or transfer of modern sporting rifles and other semi-automatic firearms in Washington state.
- Since being signed into law, HB 1240 already faces several lawsuits challenging its constitutionality, including a lawsuit brought by the National Shooting Sports .
- The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) strongly opposed HB 1240 and was on the ground in Olympia throughout the session to oppose this measure and other legislation negatively impacting hunting and recreational shooting in the Evergreen State.
On Tuesday, April 25, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed into law House Bill 1240, which immediately bans the sale or transfer of modern sporting rifles and other semi-automatic firearms. House Bill 1240 passed the legislature on April 25, and was quickly signed by the Governor. HB 1240 specifically bans listed firearms, but also includes several “catch-all” provisions, including one that would ban semi-automatic firearms with certain aesthetics or cosmetic accessories that do little to nothing to change the core function of the firearm. Modern sporting rifles and semiautomatic firearms, like those targeted in HB 1240, are commonly found in the hands of hunters and recreational shooters throughout the nation who value them for their durability and reliability.
In addition to restricting access to these firearms for hunting, recreational shooting, and other lawful purposes, HB 1240’s ban on modern sporting rifles and semi-automatic firearms will also likely impact conservation funding. Washington’s law-abiding hunters and shooters have long played a vital role in funding conservation and wildlife management efforts. Under the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), a unique “user pays —public benefits” structure, Washington’s sportsmen and women generate tens of millions of dollars each year for the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. These funds are generated through license sales, and a 10-11% federal excise tax on firearm purchases under the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act . Last year alone, over $21 million dollars was generated through this Act for Washington state, providing vital funding revenue to the state’s wildlife management efforts. Since being signed into law, HB 1240 has already received several legal challenges, including a lawsuit filed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
HB 1240 is unfortunately just one of several bills that Governor Inslee signed last week targeting firearm ownership in Washington. Also signed into law on April 25, was House Bill 1143 which imposes training requirements and a 10-day waiting period to purchase a firearm, and Senate Bill 5078, which allows lawsuits to be brought against manufacturers, sellers or transferors of a firearm for third-party criminal misuse. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation was on the ground in Olympia throughout this legislative session and worked closely with partner organizations to oppose these ill-informed efforts that severely limit and restrict our hunting heritage and firearms rights. CSF, as a Co-Chair of the Washington Fish & Conservation Partnership, helped lead opposition from the sportsmen’s community on each of the bills, including submitting on HB 1143, HB 1240, and SB 5078.